Shadows in the Night

Shadows in the Night

Prologue: The Dark Age

Happosai could barely move. The battle had taken far longer then any of their previous battles, he had used every move he had ever invented, every cheap trick and every insult, but his opponent didn't notice anything. It was almost as though he was doing this more for old times sake then anything else, and then he attacked back. The punches broke the sound barrier more then once. Happosai was sure one of those kicks could shatter the Earth's crust. Ki blasts strong enough to level mountains were tossed off as nothing. Finally, after another hour of humiliation, Happosai had nothing left. His opponent looked down at him. His arms across his chest and that damned pigtail now down to the middle of his back, Ranma Saotome had once and for all defeated the Grand Master of Anything Goes.

"Don't try it old man," The thirty-year-old told him, "It's been years since you were a challenge. I've put up with you and your antics out of respect for your skill, but trying to steal my daughter's underwear was the last straw."

Ranma stared into Happosai's eyes and the old master could see the power leashed in Ranma's own glacial colored eyes. The full impact of the words settled in and Happosai felt something snap. Hatred raged impotently at the walls of his heart and deep inside his mind, the last traces of sanity fled.

"Never Ranma," He snarled, "I will never let you take my art form me!"

"Your art?" Ranma raised a mocking eyebrow, "Why in Kami's name would I want your art? I haven't used Anything Goes in almost ten years. The style I developed is much more superior. Sorry to break it to you old man but you are the only one left in your school. Anything Goes dies with you. Now be gone from my sight and never darken our door again." With that, Ranma Saotome turned his back on Happosai and returned to his family.

"Last one...? Dies with me...? NNNNNNOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" Happosai fixed burning eyes, devoid of sanity, compassion and reason on the dojo Ranma walked into. "I my not be able to beat you now, but soon Ranma, I will have you begging me for mercy as I slowly rip your heart out!!!"

Happosai reached his current lair almost five hours later. As soon as he entered, he went straight to a small jewelry box, inside was a single fragment of glass in a ruined mirror frame.

"Hehehe, I may not be able to travel in time with this any more, but I can send a message. But the question is when." He sat thinking the answer for another hour until... "I have it! Yes, yes that will be perfect. I will have all the power I'll ever need then."

The insane pervert frantically gathered the few things he would need and scribbled out his message. With the letter finished, Happosai grabbed the Nanban fragment and summoned a single tear. When the tear splashed on the broken piece of glass, it started to glow. A smiling Happosai shoved the letter through the glowing mirror. After it passed through, the mirror fragment started to let off sparks and then dissolved. Happosai looked dumbly at the useless powder and then looked around.

"Hmmm... I wonder how long it will take for the change to take effect."

~~~~

275 years ago

Happosai rubbed at his sore head while mumbling irritably below his breath as he walked along a wooded path.

"Stupid stuck up Amazon... mumble mumble.... sending out all the signals... mumble mumble... she's lucky I didn't want her that much..."

The forty-year-old martial artist almost missed the flash of light in the bushes to his right. Almost.

"Eh? What's this?" He went over and looked between two bushes and saw a folded piece of paper. On the side facing him was his own name. Happosai picked it up and looked it over.

"Strange. I wonder how this got here." He glanced around but found no trace of another person or animal. Shrugging, he opened it and began to read.

Happosai,

If I have timed this right, you have just been rejected by the Amazon Kho Lon. I am you from the future, the hand mirror you took is a magical item for traveling through time. However, in my time it has been broken. A fragment was used to send you this message.

The path you are on at the moment will eventually lead to the total ruination of all we sought to build. It is too late for me but you still have a chance. Recently you found a unlabeled black book with runes inside. This book is one describing a group of very powerful demons locked away forever. Included in this letter are instructions for the correct way of summoning one. The demons will do anything to be freed, even grant a mortal like us power beyond imagining. I leave the rest to you.

Happosai

Happosai looked at the accompanying page and the list for the ceremony, including the date to perform it on. It had to be done it two weeks or else it couldn't be done again for a thousand years. That explains why my counterpart didn't cast this. Happosai folded the paper back up and smiled.

"Soon I shall have all I have ever dreamed of." His laughter echoed along the valley until it reached a woman sitting by her village wall. Upon hearing it, the woman shivered, knowing something bad had just happened.

Two weeks later, Happosai have all components gathered and properly prepared. That night was the best time to call one of these demons and Happosai intended to do just that. The calling ceremony took the better part of three hours and he was starting to get impatient when a shimmering began in the center of the pentagram. Soon a figure so average he could've been any race was looking at Happosai.

"Can I help you?" He asked, sounding almost board

"Yes, I wish to make a deal."

The demon's eyes suddenly lit up and he smiled at the foolish mortal. "Why of coarse. What can your humble servant do for you?"

"I want to never again be laughed at! I want all to know my name and my power! I want to be remembered in all of history as the greatest!" Happosai crowed, he was so close!

"I hear a lot of 'I wants,' what will I be getting out of this deal?" Inside the demon was laughing, this mortal was making it too easy!

"Freedom of coarse. Grant me what I want and I will free you from your prison."

"Agreed."

Happosai nodded and said the second part of the spell. The demon felt the chains binding him dissolve and his power surge back into him.

"It is done demon. Now grant me my wish!"

The demon looked up at the mortal who had freed him and smiled. Happosai felt some of his confidence shack at the sight. "Certainly. You wished to never again be laughed at, for all to know of you and your power and to be remembered in history as the greatest. Well I have just the way to do it."

The demon blurred forward and shoved his hand into Happosai's chest. As the martial artist gapped at him as his blood and life left him, he heard the demon talking to him on last time.

"No one will laugh at you when you are dead, and for freeing me I shall make sure all know it was you. You will go down in history as the greatest traitor to the human race ever. The one who unleashed hell on earth. The one who freed the archdemon Morticci!"

Morticci jerked his hand from the dead mortal and licked the blood off. "I shall understand if you find that of some comfort while you are burning in hell." He laughed and teleported to the surface. "Now let the new Dark Age begin! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!"

~~~~

260 years later

Xian Pu kept running forward as she looked back at the burning remains of her village, and her great grandmother. The Dark Horde struck with almost no warning. Elder Kho Lon was the only one to sense the monsters approach. Only the quick response of the guards to her shouted warning allowed the tower sentries to survive by activating the dark wards. The next hours Xian knew she would see in her nightmares for years to come, if she lived that long. The front ranks of the Horde were the typical zombies, imps and corrupted humans, easily stopped by the wards and killed by simple arms. It was the back ranks that had the Elders worried, all though they couldn't see them they knew the psychic feel of the vampires and at least one major demon. With vampires the wards would be directly attacked by dark sorcery to allow the ware-beasts access through the weakened barrier.

A hasty message was sent to their allies at the Phoenix Citadel to warn them, but no request for aid was sent. The Elders knew the force attacking them would overrun the defenses before reinforcements could arrive or the White Road could be realigned, but they would ensure that as many Amazons survived as they could. As the Council of Elders retreated to the Hall to prepare the final spell the Amazon Nation would cast, Xian was elected to lead the young and non-warriors to the Citadel. She had argued as hard as she could but Elder Kho Lon meant to see the last of her line survive this night.

Soon the wards failed and the Horde broke through the gates. Finding only token resistance, they charged deeper into the center of the village. Once they were at the gates to the Hall the Elders cast their spell. White light spilled out of the Hall and the creatures of darkness were ripped apart by Holy. From the shattered ruins of the Hall, only two Elders survived. Kho Lon gave the signal and the remaining Amazons left the village through the White Road, taking them right to the Citadel.

As the remaining Horde entered the ruin, Xian came up to the two Elders, determined to save them. Elder Komb was the first to fall. Holy had taken too much from her and she was unable to fight of a vampires' call. Xian tried to call her back but it was too late. Xian and Kho Lon reached the Gate only steps ahead of the Horde, at the Gate entrance Kho Lon gave Xian five vials of what looked like water.

"Xian," she said, "This is the last of the waters of Jusenkyou, they will be very useful to you I think. Now get through the Gate while I destroy this end." Xian looked at the vials and was about to say something when the doors burst open. A vampire smiled at the two women as he made his way in.

"Run Xian Pu!" Kho Lon didn't give her great granddaughter a chance to argue and shoved her through the glowing portal. The White Road swallowed Xian and started her along the several miles to the Citadel when there was a flickering. Xian soon found herself about a mile from the burning village and staring at an explosion where the Gate was. With a choked sob, Xian turned and ran into the night, the five vials clutched close to her breast.

The younger food sack was close by, the vampire could smell her despair and rage clearly in the forest. The old sack by the Gate had surprised him. Who would've thought she could still destroy the Gate with all her limbs ripped of? It was fortunate he was already on the Road when the Gate blew. He sensed his master die in the explosion along with most of the army. From now he was free. But the survivors would be killed in the next few days, including him most likely. However, the vampire intended to get some payback. That old hag wanted this child to live, well, he'd just see to it that she didn't.

The wolf sniffed, once more taking in the delightful fragrance the young one gave off, and ran off into the woods. His braided tail streaming behind him.

Xian couldn't suppress the cry as a large form tackled her from behind. Four of the vials flew off before her except for one which landed in by her face. The wolf on her back shifted and soon a vampire was holding her down. His cold hands digging into her flesh.

"Well girlie," His voice could've been pleasant if it wasn't for the lack of warmth in it, "You've lead a merry chase but all things must come to an end." He leaned down, opening his mouth as he neared her neck. Xian struggled to no avail, the vampires' strength far exceeded her own. She almost gave up hope when the moonlight flashed off something into her eye. The vial! Xian moved her arm forward and grabbed it. She felt the teeth about to puncture her neck when she jerked her arm behind her, breaking it on his head.

A high voiced scream echoed in the clearing as the vampire jumped off of the startled Amazon. Xian pushed her self up, keeping a length of wood from the forest floor in hand, and turned to stab the vampire in the heart. The small red-haired girl crying in front of her was a surprise. Xian blinked few times before she kneeled down and, without taking her eyes off the transformed vampire, picked up the broken vial label.

"Nannichuan." She whispered after a quick glance. The red head flinched at her voice and slowly looked up at the Amazon. Xian gasped at the horror etched on her face and in her eyes.

"Kill me, please." She rasped out.

Xian just stared at the girl, trying to figure out what happened. A memory only a few days gone surfaced to supply her answer.

Kho Lon sat in the chair and looked into the fire as the new Amazon Champion, her own great granddaughter Xian, added another log.

"Child."

Xian looked up, "Yes Elder?"

"Do you remember the stories of Jusenkyou?"

Xian squinted at the log in her hand as she tried to remember. "Wasn't that the valley pools the Musk once used to make their wives in?"

"Yes child, very good. What happened later?"

"Umm... After the Unnamed One released the Demon Morticci, it destroyed the valley. Leading to the alliance of the Musk, the Amazons and the Phoenix Tribe." Xian finished proudly.

"Very good Xian. I am glad you weren't asleep through all of your classes." Xian blushed as the Elder continued, "Now I am about to tell you why the Demon destroyed Jusenkyou." Xian's eyes widened and she laid down facing her great grandmother, the same look on her face as when she was younger, waiting for her bed time story. Kho Lon chuckled at the fond memory. "After the Demon started making it's armies, a small patrol of vampires and minor hellspawn came into the valley. They encountered one of our own patrols, one I was leading, by the pools. They attempted to take us but we held out long enough for a patrol of Musk men to arrive. As the final vampire was starting to retreat, Rin Rin, hit it with an arrow. It was not enough to kill it but it did knock her into a pool. Nannichuan to be exact. We almost killed her when she surfaced but then I saw her expression. I don't think I'll ever see an expression of such horror and self-loathing again. Some investigating showed that the vampire had somehow regained her soul and control over herself. The Council theorized that part of the soul of the original girl who drowned in the spring entered her and, finding a barren field so to speak, rapidly grew to replace what was lost. When the Demon learned of this, it had the pools destroyed to prevent it's minions from being turned against it."

"Ayia." Xian whispered, "What happened to the vampire?"

"She was charged by the Council to aid us in the fight against the Demon in atonement for her previous actions. Xian Pu was a fine Amazon for all the she was undead. She saved my life a hundred years later after an ambush almost led to our deaths. She attacked the demon master and managed to kill him, but at the cost of her own life. You were named after her in her honor." Kho Lon wiped a tear that appeared at the thought of her long dead friend. Xian gapped speechless.

Xian snapped back to reality by a hesitant touch on her arm. She jumped back and brought the stake up automatically as the vampire jumped back as well but, not yet used to her new form, she stumbled and fell on her rear with a surprised shout.

"Are...are you all right?" the vampire asked concern now on her face

Xian continued to stare at the animated vampires' face before she remembered what she had asked earlier. "You want me to kill you?" The vampire blinked, her face falling to depression and horror.

"Please."

Xian started forward, then she remembered another part of her great grandmother's story, and she got an idea. "Why should I let you off that easily?"

"Huh?"

"I kill you then you haven't made amends for your actions."

"How can I made amends for what I've done? I'm a monster!"

"Kill other monsters," Xian replied coolly, "Save as many lives as you've taken."

"But," Xian could see her resistance wearing down, "Any human will kill me the second they see me."

"Then what do you have to lose?"

The red-haired vampiress looked at the human in front of her and, to the surprise of Xian, laughed.

"You're right. What do I have to lose?"

Xian smiled slightly, this vampire would make a good ally if Elder Kho Lon's story was to be believed. "I am Xian Pu of the Amazons. Who are you?"

The girl got to her feet and bowed to Xian, "I am... or was, Ranma Saotome of Japan."

End Prologue

Just an idea that grabbed me today and wouldn't let go. Since I've hit a block on Heaven's Fire, I thought I'd post this for now. What do you think? Shall I continue it?